Psycho-dynamic Approach

Psycho-dynamic Approach

Psycho-dynamic Approach

by Anam Shahid Mughal               

As everybody know Sigmund Freud is the father of psychology. He worked a lot for the psychology and for the existence of a1
psychology. He was the first who introduced the psycho-dynamic approach in psychology. On the basis of psycho-dynamic he was introduced lot of new ideas emotional problems, conflicts between one another, sexual problems etc. he was introduced the treatment for those problems and that’s called psychoanalysis. Mostly people take Psychodynamic and Psychoanalysis in same terminology but the difference is Psycho-dynamic is a wide approach and psychoanalysis is a technique and therapy for the treatment of emotional problems of individuals.

History of the Psycho-dynamic Approach

Anna Freud was the daughter of Freud and a patient of Dr. Joseph Breuer from 1800 to 1882. She was suffered from hysteria. Sigmund Freud and his assistant wrote a book in 1895 on hysteria and the book name was Studies on Hysteria. In this book he explained their theory that hysteric patient have some traumatic experience in their life which lead hysteria in adulthood. This book was the publications establishes Freud as “the father of Psychoanalysis”.

He was the first who introduced the treatment of hysteria and that was hypnosis but in 1896 he was replaced hypnosis with free association. In 1900 Freud published his first major work on The Interpretation of Dreams, which established the importance of psychoanalytical movement.

In 1902 Freud founded the Psychological Wednesday Society, later transformed into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. As the organization grew, Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers, the so-called “Committee” (including Sàndor Ferenczi, and Hanns Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones).

In 1909, Freud and his colleagues came to Massachusetts to lecture on their new methods of understanding mental illness. William James, Franz Boas, and Adolf Meyer they were attended their lecture.

In 1907, Jung’s study of schizophrenia, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, led him into collaboration with Sigmund Freud. Jung’s close collaboration with Freud lasted until 1913. Jung had become increasingly critical of Freud’s exclusively sexual definition of libido and incest. In the period of crisis, Jung developed his own theories systematically under the name of Analytical Psychology. Jung’s concepts of the collective unconscious and the archetypes led him to explore religion in the East and West, myths, alchemy, and later flying saucers.


Psycho-dynamic Approach Assumptions                            

The assumptions of psycho-dynamic approach are:a2

  1. The individual behavior and their feelings are strongly affected by the unconscious drives.
  2. Adult’s problematic behavior and feelings due to the bad childhood experiences.
  3. Id, ego and super ego plays an important role in the development of individual’s personality.
  4. Id and Super ego are the part of unconscious mind and ego is related with conscious mind person aware with this mind.
  5. Behavior is motivated by two instinctual drives: Eros (the sex drive & life instinct) and Thanatos (the aggressive drive & death instinct). Both these drives come from the “id”.
  6. Conflicts of individual’s life create anxiety which could be dealt with by ego’s use that is also called defense mechanism.
  7. Psycho-sexual development is also in process during personality development and individual facing conflicts in his life and in his childhood.

Psycho-dynamic Approach Criticisms

The greatest criticism of the psycho-dynamic approach is that:

  • It is unscientific in its analysis of human behavior.  Many of the concepts central to Freud’s theories are subjective, and as such, difficult to test scientifically.

For example, how is it possible to scientifically study concepts like the unconscious mind or the tripartite personality?  In this respect it could be argued that the psycho-dynamic perspective is unfalsifiable as its theories cannot be empirically investigated.

However, cognitive psychology has identified unconscious processes, such as procedural memory (Tulving, 1972), automatic processing (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Stroop, 1935), and social psychology have shown the importance of implicit processing (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). Such empirical findings have demonstrated the role of unconscious processes in human behavior.

Kline (1989) argues that the psycho-dynamic approach comprises a series of hypotheses, some of which are more easily tested than others, and some with more supporting evidence than others. Also, whilst the theories of the psycho-dynamic approach may not be easily tested, this does not mean that it does not have strong explanatory power.

Nevertheless, most of the evidence for psycho-dynamic theories is taken from Freud’s case studies (e.g. Little Hans, Anna O). The main problem here is that the case studies are based on studying one person in detail, and with reference to Freud the individuals in question are most often middle aged women from Vienna (i.e. his patients). This makes generalizations to the wider population (e.g. the whole world) difficult.

Another problem with the case study method is that it is susceptible to researcher bias. Reexamination of Freud’s own clinical work suggests that he sometimes distorted his patients’ case histories to ‘fit’ with his theory (Sulloway, 1991).

The humanistic approach makes the criticism that the psycho-dynamic perspective is too deterministic – leaving little room for the idea of personal agency (i.e. free will).

Finally, the psycho-dynamic approach can be criticized for being sexist against women. For example, Freud believed that females’ penis envy made them inferior to males. He also thought that females tended to develop weaker superegos and to be more prone to anxiety than males.


Adler, A. (1927). Understanding human nature. New York: Greenburg.

Bargh, J. A., & Chartrand, T. L. (1999). The unbearable automaticity of being. American psychologist, 54(7), 462.

Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.

Freud, A. (1936). Ego & the mechanisms of defense.

Freud, S., & Breuer. J. (1895). Studies on hysteria. In Standard edition (Vol. 2, pp. 1–335).

Jung, C. G. (1912). Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido: Beiträge zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Denkens. F. Deuticke.

Jung, C. G., et al. (1964). Man and his Symbols, New York, N.Y.: Anchor Books, Doubleday.

Kline, P. (1989). Objective tests of Freud’s theories. Psychology Survey, 7, 127-45.

Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of experimental psychology, 18(6), 643.

Sulloway, F. J. (1991). Reassessing Freud’s case histories: The social construction of psychoanalysis. Isis, 82(2), 245-275.

Tulving, E. (1972). Episodic and semantic memory. In E. Tulving & W. Donaldson (Eds.), Organization of Memory, (pp. 381–403). New York: Academic Press.

November 14, 2015 / by / in ,
%d bloggers like this: